On this diet you’re supposed to “lose weight by taking weekends off”. In other words, you follow your healthy diet all week and on the weekends, you can eat whatever foods you like including ice-cream, pizza, steak, burgers and even beer.
This isn’t just to give some sort of relief to dieters who may very well cheat, it is highly encouraged as Paul Rivas suggests indulging in these foods gives your metabolism a boost and prevents it from slowing down.
In this review of The Cheater’s Diet, we’ll take a look at how this diet works and whether this is a sound way to eat and lose weight.
What’s Involved in The Cheater’s Diet?
On the Cheater’s diet, from Monday to Friday, you’re encouraged to eat a Mediterranean-style diet which includes lean meat (less red meat), fish, vegetables, fruits, whole grains, nuts and high quality monounsaturated oils like olive oil.
Each day, you’ll eat three meals and two snacks with a combined total of about 1600 to 1800 calories. The book includes recipes that you can follow for a two week period.
Off limit foods during the week include sugar, white rice, bread, potatoes, alcohol and any saturated fats like butter, cream and any fried foods.
You’ll have three servings of fruit per day and four servings of vegetables. No bananas are allowed as they contain too much starch.
On the weekends, with the exception of foods that can trigger binge eating, you’re encouraged to have ice-cream, pizza and other cheat foods. You will eat an extra 10 calories for every pound of your current weight which can mean consuming at least an extra 1400 calories or more!
Rivas says that most diets will cause your metabolism to slow and that cheating can kick your metabolism back into high gear. However, he doesn’t back up this theory with any proven research.
Exercise is also encouraged on this diet and there is a section of the book dedicated to this component of the diet. Two sessions of aerobics are recommended which you’d split over two days of the week. On the remaining days, your exercise would be whatever movement you can do such as cleaning the house, taking the stairs at work or walking the dog.
Pros of The Cheater’s Diet
- The Mediterranean diet has been proven to be a healthy way of eating and has benefits to weight loss
- You can look forward to cheat days without feeling guilty
- Exercise is encouraged
- Practical meal plans that include stuff you already have
Cons of the Cheater’s Diet
- Having cheat days can possibly derail your diet causing you to add pounds
- Rivas theory of a recharged metabolism isn’t supported by proven research
- Not suitable for persons with diabetes and other conditions
- Not enough of the right exercises are recommended
Can This Diet Work For You?
This diet is different from most diets as it allows you to eat foods that other diets would normally encourage you to stay away from.
You get to eat ice-cream and drink beer on the weekends without having to feel guilty about it.
On the week days, you are following one of the healthiest diets, the Mediterranean diet, which has been proven to help you lose weight and has a host of benefits including good heart health.
So this diet is really the Mediterranean diet for 5 days and then you cheat and start over the next week.
Can this really work for you if you’re serious about losing weight?
Rather than have cheat days because you want to eat cheat foods, experts recommend that you include it in moderation whenever you like. So you can have two scoops of ice-cream in a cup (not the sugary cones) on a day in the week if you like as long as you have followed your diet for the remainder of the day.
Cheating like this is more realistic than consuming 1500 extra calories on a Saturday and not having to feel guilty about it.
Rivas theories aren’t backed up by proven research and it is very concerning if you’re making progress all week only to boost your insulin response over the weekend. Your body will stop burning fat and go back to using glycogen (from the broken down sugars in your blood) to provide energy.
Part of the equation for losing weight is to create a calorie deficit over time. Consuming so many extra calories over the weekend may very well cause you to create a calorie surplus instead and the result is that you’re going to put on pounds.
The Cheaters Diet also recommends two days of exercise. For a diet that encourages cheat foods, this amount of exercise isn’t enough even if you’re moving on the other days.
Whether you like the idea of having guilt free cheat days or not, this diet isn’t something you want to do if you’re serious about losing your beer belly.
You can have cheat foods at any time as long as you eat it in moderation and stick to the rest of the diet. Packing an extra 1500 or so calories on the two weekend days is a recipe for putting on extra pounds instead of losing weight.
My alternative to The Cheater’s Diet is my top recommendation, The 3 Week Diet, which puts your metabolism into a fat-burning state and doesn’t slow down at all. In fact, if you follow this diet, you’ll burn fat even when you’re sleeping and you can expect to lose up to 21 pounds in as little as 21 days.